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Entertainment unions express ‘deep concern’ at arts journalism decline

The Stage is looking for an enthusiastic and talented BAME journalist at the start of their career to join its news desk for three months. Photo: Mitrija/Shutterstock The number of reviews in major national and arts titles has dropped significantly since 2012. Photo: Mitrija/Shutterstock
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Entertainment unions have jointly written an open letter expressing “deep concern” at the decline in arts journalism and the impact this will have on the creative industries.

The letter, addressed to culture secretary Nicky Morgan, newspaper editors and arts media, is from the Federation of Entertainment Unions.

This consists of BECTU, Equity, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, the Musicians’ Union and the National Union of Journalists, which collectively represent 141,000 workers in the arts and media industries.

Writing in the open letter, the unions urge editors to “recognise the valuable contribution of the arts industry” and call on Morgan to open up a discussion with the media about its coverage of the arts.

The letter says: “As the Edinburgh Festival Fringe draws to a close, the Federation of Entertainment Unions […] is deeply concerned about the threats to arts journalism and its impact on the UK’s creative industries.

“Having a properly funded arts media is vital to supporting theatre, film and TV productions, ensuring that we celebrate the UK as a centre for the creative industries and to encourage people to get involved in the arts either as writers, directors, producers, performers, behind the scenes workers, patrons and audience members.

“All these roles help bring the magic of theatre, TV and film to life, as government figures from 2018 show the creative industries are worth more than £100 billion to the UK economy.”

The letter states that recent job losses for arts critics at the Guardian and the Evening Standard highlight this issue.

It goes on to quote figures from the List magazine that reveal the number of reviews in eight major national and arts titles dropped from 5,134 in 2012 to 3,169 in 2017.

“The FEU urges newspaper and website editors to recognise the valuable contribution of the arts industry,” the letter continues.

“By being more responsive to its success and giving the arts more funding and prominence, they will reach new audiences and increase readership, which can only be a win-win.

“The media thrives on celebrity stories, but where will the stars of the future be found if we cannot read about up-and-coming actors, writers and directors?”

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